Friday, September 16, 2011

That's Our Boy!

A couple of weeks ago, Toby started to go through a dip on the adjustment curve - school was hard, and he did not know enough boys to play with and he kept saying he didn't belong here. I diagnosed some of it as genuine sadness for the familiar, but also some as "3rd Grade is hard wherever you are, so do your homework...".

Well, what a difference. The school has a great system of sending a full week of assignments home for each subject on a Tuesday and then they have to hand in the following Monday. So, we sit down with Toby when it comes home, read it through and then come up with a plan for how he will get it all done as well as go to Tae Kwon Do and have time to play with friends. After a couple of weeks of this, Toby was recognised in class for consistently handing in all the assignments (including the optional 'risk-taker' work) on time and well done. He was asked to explain how he organized himself to the rest of the group.

I appreciate that we maybe do more hand-holding then some parents, but he is already starting to take more ownership of the work as he does it and so I feel like it is a justified approach for his personality. Andrew and I are first to admit that we're both... what's the positive term?.. not procrastinators... ah yes, deadline driven, and we're determined to help Toby overcome this genetic disorder.

Toby attends the Indus International School, Bangalore. Like his school in Minneapolis, they teach the International Baccalaureate curriculum and in terms of the work and culture we're amazed at how seamless the transition has been for him, and us. You can imagine the difference between a Minneapolis Public School where about 65% are free/reduced lunch eligible, and a fairly high end fee school for Indians and expats. In the classroom I'd say that the number of students who come from a non-English 1st language speaking home is about the same (if not higher in Minneapolis), and diversity of heritage is also very rich in both schools. The difference is in economic diversity and parent education levels.

This month, Indus received some great accolades from Education World when they shone in the League Tables for International Schools in India. They are only 10 years old, and while there have been International Schools here for a long time, the introduction of IB is recent. Indian Schools are very good at academics, but less focused on developing the whole child, which is one thing IB does so well, and why we have chosen that system for Toby & Dara. If you are interested, check out the article about Indus.

This year the whole school has a focus on goal setting - every class is incorporating it into student learning. Last week I had a short 3-way conference with Toby and his teachers to set goals. He had already identified what he was good at and how his strengths could help him get better in his areas for improvement. The teachers and I (on behalf of me and Andrew) all committed to an action to support his development, and he created goals and actions for himself based on his skills/needs and the support we had offered. This week he was told that his teachers were so impressed with his finished goals (I assume my work is also included here...) that he was going off to share them with the Head of Primary School. You should have seen him beaming as he told us, he looked so proud of himself. That meeting was yesterday, and the outcome was that she has taken a copy of his work to keep in her office, and she is hoping he can also go to share with the Head of School and the Founder, General Ray. No word on dates, but he must have done a good job presenting to her. [and how great is it that the culture at school supports this kind of thing as being valuable recognition?]

If you looked at the article, you'll see that one place Indus topped the chart was in Community Service. Among other things, they started a free IB school for kids in the local community and support it with volunteers and supplies. Today, Toby is representing 3rd Grade in assembly and giving a speech about the service project they have picked and doing 'the ask' for the rest of the school to support their stationery drive. He was chosen because he always gives interesting answers in class, and they thought he'd be able to use that skill in public speaking. Bless his heart, he has been practicing at home, and we told him that giving a speech is a lot like talking to his Grandparents: louder, clearer and slower than the way you speak to everyone else. He even wore long trousers today instead of shorts, and he did his hair. Can't wait to hear how it went.


  1. I love your blog :) It's (almost) making me think it'd be nice to live in Bangalore, at least in the conditions you are living!

  2. This is such a fabulous entry, Emma. Tell Toby how proud I am of him! Miss you guys!